This weekend on the farm tour, we’ll be visiting producers and learning about their production
methods. One of the organic production methods is called “biodiversity.”
Biodiversity can be applied to both produce production and animal production, or a mixture. It’s a rather broad term that essential means that a healthy ecosystem is created using complimentary plants, animals, and processes that help build fertile, organic soils, reduce or eliminate the need for pesticides, and produce nutrient dense foods.
In the case of New Creation Farm in Chardon, farmer Scott Boehnline has taken advantage of the natural biodiversity on his property. Scott’s farm looks like a piece of property in central Pennsylvania. There isn’t a flat piece of ground on his property. Most farmers would be discouraged; however, Scott saw it as an
opportunity to imitate Joel Salatin’s Polyface Farm in Virginia.
Scott has used his hilly terrain and forests as the perfect forage grounds for Berkshire hogs. Scott lets his heritage hogs roam freely up and down the hillsides, eating acorns, berries and nuts. Amongst the hogs he has free range chickens. The chickens take advantage of the hogs’ work. When the hogs break the ground looking for buried food, it allows the chickens more easy access to insects.
At the end of the season, Scott takes the manure pile and spreads it over his garden. Before he does that, he spreads corn and other grains around the garden. Once the garden is buried, the hogs start digging for the rotting vegetables and grains below the manure. In the process, they stir the manure, organic matter (leaves, plants, etc), and soil together. This creates a rich layer of compost that will be the base of Scott’s garden for next year.
On organic produce farms, biodiversity usually refers to the use of certain herbs and plants that attract predatory insects. These insects protect the other crops from bugs that may cause crop damage. It also includes using crop rotation methods that build the soils naturally.